RACE: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – Can-AM 500
TRACK: Phoenix Raceway
DRIVER: Daniel Suárez
CAR: No. 19 STANLEY Toyota Camry
Daniel Suárez and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) returned to the track for their second and final visit of the season at Phoenix Raceway this weekend for the Can-AM 500 and the penultimate race of the 2017 season. Sporting the STANLEY colors once again this weekend in the desert, Suárez earned the 10th starting position during qualifying on Friday afternoon. Suárez and the STANLEY team took the green flag under chamber of commerce weather just past 2:30 PM ET on Sunday afternoon. After 312 laps were complete at the one-mile facility, Suárez crossed the finish line in the 18th position for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Following the drop of the green flag, Suárez maintained his position in 10th for the first five circuits around Phoenix Raceway, but slipped back to 12th by lap 35, telling his STANELY crew that his Camry was “tight in the center of the corner, but loose off.” Continuing to fight the handling of his car, Suárez was scored in 13th when the caution flag waved on lap 75, signaling the end of stage one. Under the caution, crew chief Scott Graves called Suárez down pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to the STANLEY Camry. Following the stop, Suárez restarted stage two in 13th.
Stage two would go caution free and Suárez would continue to fight the handling of his Camry during the run, coming over the radio on lap 125 and telling his crew that his Camry was “loose in, tight center and loose off exit”. Unable to work on the car during the stage, Suárez was scored in 19th when the caution flag waved once again on lap 150, the end of stage two. With another opportunity to work on the STANLEY machine under the caution, Graves once again called Suárez down pit road for four tires, fuel and another round of adjustments to help the STANLEY Camry turn better. Following the stop, Suárez restarted the final stage in 15th.
Suárez maintained his position inside the top 15th for the first half of stage three, going a lap down to the leaders on lap 225, but a timely caution came out on lap 228 allowing Suárez and his STANLEY team to take the wave around and gain their lap back. Following a four-tire stop under the caution, Suárez restarted in 16th on lap 232. With the latest round of changes to the STANLEY Camry working, Suárez was scored in 12th when the final caution of the afternoon waved with only a hand full of laps remaining. With teams on varying pit strategies, Suárez hit pit road four one last four-tire stop and returned to the track in the 21st positon for the final restart with 48 laps remaining. Suárez and his STANLEY team would continue to fight for the remaining portion of the race, ultimately crossing the finish line in the 18th position on lap 312.
Fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth won the race followed by Chase Elliott, Martin Truex, Jr., Erik Jones and Kevin Harvick.
The MENCS returns to action next Sunday afternoon when they wrap up the 2017 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live at 2:30 PM ET on NBC, MRN Radio and SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio.
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